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Rebel Youth: Karlheinz Weinberger Hardcover – February 8, 2011
"One World Trade Center" by Judith Dupré
The definitive book about One World Trade Center--the tallest building in America--by the author of the iconic bestseller Skyscrapers. Learn more
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"Karlheinz Weinberger (1921-2006) is famous for documenting incredible-looking juvenile delinquents in Switzerland in the late 50s and early 60s, and also for having his style ripped-off by contemporary fashion designers, photographers, and stylists, like all the time. His last book, published in 2000, is out of print and going for a minimum of $500 on eBay, but thankfully Rizzoli is publishing a new book of his work called Rebel Youth." ~Vice
“Mixing American pop culture fashion with their own over-the-top accents, the ‘Halbstarke’ youth made giant belt buckles and DIY denim look good, in a way only charming delinquents can (imagine Elvis meets Brokeback Mountain, with an eccentric Euro edge).” ~W
“So much for Swiss conformity: Karlheinz Weinberger’s portraits of Zurich’s post-Second War youth captures a time when the height of coolness meant dressing like an American rebel. But this was not a look that you could just buy off the rack—it took lots of craft and effort. Hunched over a workbench or sewing machine, you needed a lot of finesse to look this rough.” ~The New Yorker
“The outfits in Karlheinz Weinberger’s photos might seem at first glance artificially produced, some over-styled exaggerations from a Kenneth Anger movie. But the kids in Weinberger’s photographs are very real rockers from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s in Zurich who built a community out of a shared love for Elvis and American music. A new book of Weinberger’s work Rebel Youth shows how painstakingly he catalogued the Swiss subculture called the Halbstark or ‘Half-Strong,’ hosting kids in his in-home studio and following them around town to snap photos.” ~The Fader
“Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger…totally speaks our language with his gorgeously gritty snaps of disaffected Swiss youth…. It’s the kind of book we’d look to for style inspiration again and again…Mark your calendar because, trust us, this is one book you’ll actually want to read. Trip to Geneva, anybody?”
“Offering a photographic view of an urban Swiss subculture, Karlheinz Weinberger’s Rebel Youth takes book lovers for a walk on Zurich’s wild side in the 1960s.” ~Flavorwire
“A foreword by filmmaker John Waters adds to the kitsch value of the subject, but don’t be mistaken: This is seriously good work” ~City Arts
“Weinberger captures a late 50s/early60s look that led to many fashion revolutions and looks that later inspired rockers like the Straw Cats and Adman and the Ants.” ~Blog on Books
"We’ve found a new subculture of the week: Swiss greasers. Through the late 50s and 60s, they were terrorizing the country with greased pompadours, biker jackets and oversized belt buckles with pictures of Elvis on them—almost all of which looks pretty awesome in retrospect. Rebel Youth… takes a look at what the rockabillies of Switzerland were up to during those years. " ~Kempt
“Weinberger’s documentation of rebellious youth inspired the fashion industry—specifically folks like Steven Meisel and Martin Margiela—the sharp individuality of “Verausten” fusing elements of American pop culture and a defiant European glamour.” ~Curated
About the Author
John Waters is a filmmaker, writer, and visual artist. He has directed such beloved cult films as Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, and Female Trouble.
Guy Trebay writes for the New York Times style section, where he covers fashion and style. He has received numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination. He has also written for the New Yorker, The Atlantic, Esquire, and the Village Voice.
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Top Customer Reviews
Who were these Swiss rebels - hung up on American rock and roll icons 10 years out of date ? What were the conversations that took place as they made their crude giant belt buckles and assembled bits of junk to make oversized and suggestive necklaces ? Who started chaining the flies of their jeans closed ? Who put the BOLTS over the fly of their jeans ? Who were these kids ?!
The photos themselves are a different sort of spectacular. They look like sort of semi-casual alternative fashion magazine photography with a homo-erotic gaze. When I first saw the photographs online - I thought they were of a current subculture, with kids who were hung up on sourcing authentic deadstock fashions. They became even stranger when I discovered they were taken in 1965 +/-
This book is an amazing document of an unknown subculture (Swiss Rockabilly Gangs ?) but the quality and perspective of the photographs elevates them to art v.s. mere documentation. In the gaze of the photographer is an uncritical appreciation of male beauty. There are a few photographs of the girls in the gang - or girlfriends - but the lighting is usually harsh and the girl never look as enticing as the boys. These kids were punks before punk. They were punk before garage music as a genre even happened. What kind of adults did they become ? Were any of them secret sweethearts of the photographer ? Inquiring minds need to know !
Discovering his work was like discovering a new flavour I was a little uncertain of.
When the public images the ideal Swiss faces, the image of faces framed by their golden locks, and wearing the typical shorts and felt vest comes into focus. But the aspect that Weinberger captures is that lesser known look of blue jeans, tight striped t-shirts, skull-and-cross bone belts and jean jackets. In 1938, Swiss-born Karlheinz Weinberger encounters a young rocker on the streets of Zurich who posed for a shot. It was then that this photographer for gay magazines worked his way into the flourishing culture of Swiss gangs. These adolescents, under American influence, were playing tough guys on big bikes, displaying the name of their bands, rolling around on the ground and kissing in the woods. They would wear horseshoe symbols, helmets of the Wehrmacht as a sign of their rejection of authority and replaced the zippers of their jeans with chains, screws or belt buckles with Elvis' head. Fascinated by this, Weinberger views them with respect and immortalizes their daily life in a work that is both raw and personal, while bringing these rebellious blond heads one by one into his universe: an industrial warehouse in which he works for a large portion of his life, photographing during his free time and his off-hours.
The Foreword for the book is provided by (appropriately) John Waters who states "Karlheinz Weinberger is Swiss??! You're kidding me.Read more ›